Welcome to our occasional, scrupulously polite and non-partisan discussion of “the public dialog,” which is precious! If you have a question about public discourse — especially how to improve it — go ahead and ask Mrs. Language Person.
Q. Why can’t our public dialog be more civil? Why does it have to be so nasty?
A. You are welcome. Thank you.
Q. That doesn’t answer my question. Shouldn’t we be more polite when talking about politics, religion and controversial sex topics?
A. When people are wrong, we need to refute them. That’s why we have an internet. LOLLOLLOLLOLLOL.
Q. That LOL stuff is very, very irritating.
A. Just had to try it once to see what it’s like. I’m sorry. You’re welcome.
Q. Seriously, how can we “disagree without being disagreeable”?
A. One trick is to avoid the term “moron”. For example, in the sentence, “I yield the balance of my time to the honorable Senator from West Bend, who is a moron,” it’s nicer if you leave off that last part. There’s no need for name-calling.
Q. What about this? Is this an example of “lunatic raving”?
There are some narrow-minded and mean-spirited members of Wisconsin’s Totalitarian Left that will do all they can to destroy those who disagree with them.
A. Well, what would you say if “Wisconsin’s Totalitarian Left” were trying to destroy you?
Q. What Totalitarian Left?
A. I have no idea. Is it a campus group?
Q. The Young Totalitarians™? No! This guy was talking about the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. And the Firefighters Union. And Teachers. They’re not Totalitarian Leftists!
A. Oh, union members! The new style-book for Republicans says to call ’em “thugs”.
Q. They’re not “thugs”! Or “totalitarians”.
A. Well, maybe whoever said that just happened to be drunk. Totally fried. Did you ever think of that? Maybe he was talking in private. Or to himself.
Q. No, the quote’s from a press release.
A. Well, that seems rather intemperate for a press release…
Q. You might say “intemperate”. You might say, “near raving lunacy”…
A. Well, geez. He musta been hopped up on goofers… It’s Charlie Sheen, right? Am I right?
Q. No! Glenn Grothman, Republican senator from West Bend!
A. Oh, him. Yeah, he’s a moron.
Q. Thank you.
A. You’re welcome.